Celebrity Cult Claptrap

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There used to be film stars… people that Hollywood put into lead roles in their films because they were good looking, or sexy or just looked the part. They were contracted to make a number of films for a studio and therefore often played roles they were ill suited too or were far above their acting ability. Moreover, every so often a body was plucked from the stage because of their fame and parachuted into a film role. Here they enunciated and bellowed as if needing to whisper to the upper circle and allow every nuance of the plot to be telegraphed via their faces

Thankfully this is almost a thing of the past and acting skills are a million miles further along the road and performances in even minor roles are realistic, engaging and emotive.

But that is for blockbusters and art films or superior TV drama. Hundreds of TV channels ill the airways with formulaic dross from which arise not stars but short lived meteorites that flash across the screen so fast that if you are not watching that obscure channel or daytime slot pass by unnoticed. Yet they have, in that instant, become celebrities.

Minor actors, documentary subjects, panel game contestants and ‘reality’ TV participants earn fame enough to acquire the label, sufficient for them to turn on the Christmas lights in Frinton-on-sea, open a supermarket in Aston-under-Lyne or become a contestant on a ‘star-studded’ edition of a celebrity game show.

My better half reads a daily newspaper and some magazines, so I am forever asking her who the so-called celebrities are who appear on a panel or take part in the sort of inane show I relax to.

Answers will come back such as ‘Oh, he was a finalist in X-factor three years ago’ or ‘She was thrown out of Big Brother the year before last, for making a racist remark’ or some other 15 minute fame slot that now constitutes celebrity.

I do not begrudge these people their moments in the limelight. Nor do I mind that some ‘towie’ wannabe cashes in to do something odd on ice or be ridiculed on a panel game. After all, he or she may be so thick that they are virtually unemployable and a guest appearance on a daytime potboiler saves the state the cost of keeping them in bejazzle beads or hair gel.

What I really resent ‘though are the minor actors and actresses, presenters and pundits who get to travel the world and stay in luxury hotels in exotic locations… in some show purporting to be a documentary.

An ageing actress gets to live on a dessert island surrounded by noddies and tropic birds; a soap star gets to jet off to Costa Rica or a daytime panel pundit gets to sample sailing the Greek Islands in search of the perfect villa.

Most of the time they have no idea about nature or history or culture and were picked purely for their well-known face. I resent it because I could have done it better but am far too ugly to consider.

[Recently a relative took part on a TV quiz show. He was told what to wear and what not to. Told he had to stand and clearly picked for looking the part. Producers and directors do not chose fat middle aged cripples unless they are ‘celebrities’.]

Everything that happens on screen seems to be in line with some formula or orthodoxy… not for the benefit of the audience. How often do cameras zoom in on a landscape painting until you cannot make out the figures meant to be viewed from ten feet away? How often do TV directors look intently at a contestant when the quiz question they are struggling with could be shown to test us watchers?

I tell you what… lets all put our names in a giant hat and be picked next time such a slot needs filling. Either that or get a celebrity who has great enthusiasm to learn (like Sue Perkins on the Mekong) or is an expert in the subject matter (like Bill Baily on Wallace) or has a feel for the weird and quirky (like Paul Merton in China).

While you are at it Mr TV Producer, dump the boring travellers whom we are supposed to care about whether they get from A to B by camel, and ditch boorish, racist, elitist and thoroughly obnoxious, overpaid car enthusiasts!

Oh Well!

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Fleetwood Mac once sang…

I can’t help about the shape I’m in
I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin
But don’t ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to

Oh well. I’m not really bothered what anyone thinks of me. Perhaps it’s a male thing, but I don’t give a toss what I look like. I recently visited an audiologist hoping to get some improvement in my one good ear. I walked out with a minor miracle of a device that turns certain pitches that I cannot hear, into others that I can. Throughout the consultation I kept being told things such as ‘its barely noticeable’ and ‘the hearing aid is very discrete’ and so forth. I really couldn’t care less.

You can’t judge a book by its cover… true, but 99% of us do just that all day, twenty four seven!

So, the world that sees me is one that labels in a prejudiced and harmful way and is incapable of seeing beyond the surface to the person inside the body. Being somewhat bent over, paunchy, greying and with a dress sense that would make Wurzle Gummage seem sophisticated I am constantly judged. My physical condition is such that tight clothes are not just undesirable, but over an hour or two cause physical pain. So polo shirts and tracksuit bottoms are the order of my day, any day.

Thus the world sees an aging, fat, old cripple who not only has no halfpennies to rub together, but is also clearly a thick, working class yahoo, who may get aggressive and probably smells. Were I to walk the streets late at night I am sure unaccompanied women would cross the road and if I were to take my grandchildren to the park most of the world would assume I was a paedophile!

(When Neanderthal man was discovered and a model constructed everyone assumed that this slightly ben stance was their natural form. It turns out the first guy found probably had AS just like me!)

Of course, this is a long way from the truth. I am a harmless family man who only turns nasty and fascist at the thought of anyone harming a child in any way! I claim working class credentials and am proud to have come from poor honest folk. My Kentish accent may sound as if I don’t have two CSEs to rub together let alone a degree. Yet, I have made my living with my brain, and latterly a pen for most of my working life and recon, in my dotage, I could still intellectually buy and sell most of those who feel superior to me.

I define myself these days as ‘writer’. Of course I’ve always been a writer, the difference these days is that I’ve had seven books published and several others written as well as a monthly magazine column etc.

How would a reporter for the local rag see me? He or she would probably describe me as a ‘pensioner’ or possibly a ‘disabled’. It could be worse I guess. I could be all those things and disdained even more were I female, black or gay.

In fact virtually ALL women have it worse. Reach a certain age whether you be a High Court Judge or her Char Lady and you will be levelled at a stroke by being described as a ‘grandmother of three’ or whatever.

Women are defined by age. ‘Teenage Jade…’ ‘…accompanied her forty five year old mother’ to see ‘…aging actress’ or ‘…white haired grandmother’. If she be rich enough and without progeny she may pass as a ‘dowager’.

All of this is the lowest brow description possible penned, however, by journalist from the gutter press to the most liberal of broadsheets. Pathetic.

Elsewhere I am proud to acclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’… but in this case all us put down and disdained, ignored or condemned and dishevelled old crocs should (with NO implied honour to that worst of women Margaret Thatcher) proclaim… ‘We are a grandmother’!

Rubbish!

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I’d like to personally thank the generous donor who made this post possible… we’ve never met, but I probably have some of your DNA or fingerprint on the outside of one or other of the small black bags full of dog shit that you so kindly deposited in my front garden!

I have no idea if this is the same person who over the last year has deposited coke cans and crisp bags, empty Polish vodka bottles and KFC boxes in my garden, on the wall or on top of my dustbins. Or indeed if is the same person who has filled my bins with bottles, bags of detritus and even an old school uniform and some shoes, but they most certainly share the same mentality.

They share it too with those senseless vandals that empty their car ashtrays in woodland car parks and, no doubt the geniuses who fly-tip everything, including the kitchen sink and builders rubble into many of the places I like to go birding.

These people would fail a citizenship hearing or an intelligence test and have neither common consideration nor fellow feeling for me or any other member of the wider society. I guess I should feel sympathy for these sociopaths, but, what the hell, they are incapable of empathising with me so stuff the lot of them.

And yet I do not, in one sense blame them. They are moronic, selfish and in every way beyond the pale but share a common heritage. Throughout the ages there have been the majority that keep their rude huts swept and caves clean and who have considerately carried out their ablutions down-river from the village; and there has been a minority that shit on their own doorsteps and shuffle about in the mire as well as kick their dung over societies walls.

Given this enduring heritage why are local authorities so completely brainless as to charge to take in commercial refuse and refuse entry to domestic re-cycling centres to anyone with a vehicle larger than a Chelsea Tractor (that’s a 4×4 for the uninformed).

Can these council clots not figure out that the cost of cleaning up the mess of the few fly-tipping fuckwits far outweighs the income derived from responsible residents and beneficent businesses?

Picture a similar scene at a roundabout today. A gull struggles by with its wings and neck caught up in a discarded blue plastic bag. Following patiently behind is a citizen of the world trying to release this unfortunate wild creature? Twenty unusually patient drivers cheer her on and then the inevitable white van driving airhead puts his foot on the gas and careers across the domed tarmac in his haste to get, no doubt to some quiet country lane to unload an aging three-piece suite and a decidedly non-flat-screen TV.

Doubtless he will later be down my road walking his American Pit-bull-Staffordshire crossbreed to the pub; his hand already inside a small black bag ready to scoop the poop and throw it among my daffodils!